The Chuckanut Ridge Descent is definitely a signature Bellingham Ride, chock full of sandstone and more roots than you can shake a stick at. Starting at the top of Chuckanut Mountain, this route strings together several trails for a tough but rewarding ride through beautiful Northwest forests. Prepare to exercise a wealth of trail skills on the technical descents and traverses during this vigorously fun ride.
While the toughest sections can be walked, much of the trail is composed of challenging tech that less comfortable riders would benefit from avoiding altogether.
If shuttling, plan on leaving a vehicle at Arroyo Park or the North Chuckanut Mountain Trailhead.
While this ride follows the Upper and Lower Ridge Trail
, it notably omits the Middle Ridge Trail
. This is due to the precipitous nature and repeated hike-a-bike sections found on the middle of the ridge.
From the bottom of the ridge, this ride continues onto Lower Salal Trail
a devilishly rooty XC trail that's equal parts challenge and fun. Riders wishing to avoid such an experience could instead travel left onto the North Lost Lake Trail
The ride breaks into three core sections: Upper Ridge Trail
, Lower Ridge Trail
, and Lower Salal Trail
Upper Ridge Trail
sets the stage with precise maneuvering through trees and over sandstone slabs. Expect slow technical work paired with short surges of speed. At roughly 0.8mi keep an eye out for a trail splitting off to the left. This is a detour that eliminates the Middle Ridge Trail avoided here because of its very steep nature and continuous hike-a-bike sections. Instead, a short detour onto Cleator Road
followed by a fairly mellow ascent leapfrogs riders to the Lower Ridge Trail
without having to practice being a sherpa for the day.
The technical riding experienced on the Upper Ridge Trail
returns for an encore with tighter lines and trickier terrain. Line choice is even more important and careful study/sessioning will reveal some of the best. A right hand turn signifies the end of the ridge and a brief respite along Dan's Traverse
Stage three offers you a choice. Turn left and bail-out along the dirt road ( North Lost Lake Trail
) or head to the sign post to the right for some intense cross country riding. The latter option brings you to Salal Trail
and then to Lower Salal Trail
at your first left.
Lower Salal Trail
(also referred to as Hush-Hush) offers up a root infested obstacle course where lunges and ratcheting are king. Difficult even in good conditions, the countless roots make for a wild ride in the wet. Lower Salal Trail
eventually joins with the North Lost Lake Trail
for a tame return to your vehicle. There are several small intersecting trails making navigating more challenging. Fortunately the trails are short, so a wrong turn is usually easily corrected. These lower trails do receive a lot of pedestrian traffic, so speeds should be kept in check.